Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2009 March 23
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The Seahorse of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio (STScI)

Explanation: To some it may look to some like a big space monster, but it is more big than monster. To others it may look like a grazing seahorse, but the dark object toward the image right is actually an inanimate pillar of smoky dust about 20 light years long. The curiously-shaped dust structure occurs in our neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud, in a star forming region very near the expansive Tarantula Nebula. The energetic nebula is creating a star cluster named NGC 2074, whose centre is visible just off the top of the image in the direction of the neck of the seahorse. The above representative colour image was taken last year by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in honor of Hubble's 100,000th trip around the Earth. As young stars in the cluster form, their light and winds will slowly erode the dust pillars away over the next million years.


Tomorrow's picture: martian sand shadow


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